Teachers Chain Themselves to Capitol Rotunda
SAN JUAN – A group of teachers chained themselves at the Capitol rotunda Monday in rejection of a bill they allege closes and privatizes schools.
The teachers are members of the Broad Front in Defense of Public Schools, and oppose the approval of House Bill 1032, which the group believes would lead to the closure and privatization of hundreds of schools.
The teachers said the measure will force the displacement of thousands of teachers, as well as cause “the dismantling of the education system in Puerto Rico.”
The chained protesters, some of whom were in wheelchairs, and the rest of the demonstrators initially faced police officers, who prevented their entry. They later accessed the Capitol’s rotunda.
Late Sunday evening, the Senate approved a plan to privatize schools (bill 1456), after inserting it into House Bill 1032.
The spokeswoman of Educators for Democracy, Unity, Change, Membership and Union Organization (Educamos by its Spanish acronym), Eva Ayala Reyes, accused Senate President Eduardo Bhatia and the upper chamber of acting “Machiavellian-like and like thieves in the night to impose on the country a plan to privatize education, close schools and eliminate teaching positions….”
She added the measure had been rejected by teachers, their organizations and large sectors of the island, but supported by those “who profit from the needs of the people.”
“In fact, the Bhatia-Román [Education Secretary Raphael Román] plan coincides perfectly with the intentions of a fiscal control board that, if approved, will also eliminate public schools, as has been done at other U.S. jurisdictions,” the labor leader said.